Spoilers will be anticipating your moves.
First of all the obvious. This movie should have happened a lot earlier in the MCU timeline. Now, before going into any missteps and/or flaws, I would have to say this one is entertaining throughout and for the most part it should keep you glued to the screen. There’s some slow moments where you’re either into it or not where it can drag, but it’s very much pretty solid entertainment. I will keep off the spoilers, but the twists or turns are no more than the standard fare and none are game changers. You can see how most things are going to turnout, but it will still keep your attention overall. Let’s brief you on the details.
Black Widow (2021) was directed by Cate Shortland based on a screenplay by Eric Pearson. This is the retconning story of Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), told in flashback and her reuniting with characters from her past. It doesn’t focus too deep on her training, but more on the fact that the new recruits of the famous “Red Room”, a soviet-flavoured initiative of trained assassins (aka “Black Widows”) has progressed to chemically induced mind control. To find the Red Room and the mastermind behind it, she has to find her “family” or more accurately the operatives with whom she posed as a regular American family. This includes her “sister” Yelena (Florence Pugh) who was also trained as a Black Widow, her “father” Alexei (David Harbour) who became the “Red Guardian” and her “mother” Melina (Rachel Weisz). Standing on her way is a super-assassin known as Taskmaster.
First of all, this is not an over-complicated scheme. Natasha is on the run as all Avengers are being targeted due the Sokovia thing (you don’t need to look it up) and she’s gone underground in Norway. Yelena meanwhile is freed from her mind control and sends the means to liberate all the widows to Natasha. Don’t worry, this is just the initial premise and it won’t detract you from enjoying the film. Actually, it’s best not to have any expectations at all. The film does try to make it so the plot is a little more over-arching that it needs to be. The action is fast paced but not terribly distracting. The humour is typical Marvel faire, focusing a lot on Natasha’s “family” unit.
Pugh’s Yelena is very much the highlight of the film, with Harbour’s Alexei running the comic relief every time things get too serious. Johansson acts as our POV character most of the time and given that you’re aware of the events that happen in Avengers: Endgame it’s bittersweet that what should’ve been her first film playing this character is actually her last. Weisz does a decent job as Melina, although she feels a bit underused. The family dynamic is employed mostly for laughs. They all know they were a pretend family, but although some of them act like it wasn’t a big deal (Natasha, mostly) it’s obvious they all developed feelings for each other.
About comic book accuracy… It doesn’t really matter. We’re going for entertainment value. Alexei likes to think the Red Guardian was Russia’s counterpart and frenemy to Captain America, even to the point of asking Natasha if Rogers ever said anything about him. Taskmaster here is a character made for the narrative and only shares some aspects with the comic book character of the same name. As such, Taskmaster works but if you’re a fan of the character you might be disappointed to learn it’s not really him. Dreykov (Ray Winstone) is the one you want to keep your eye on.
Highly recommended for entertainment value. Forget comic book accuracy or realism, turn your brain off and you’ll have a good time. It’s got those typical early callouts that are later relevant in the film. The humour is very much predictable but it will either endear you to the characters or not. I don’t believe it’s a film that is trying to be anything else than what it is. There are no particular twists that change the way you see the MCU. As always with Marvel, there’s an post credit scene revealing a possible future storyline that you might want to stay for. Worth a watch.
That will do for now.